Sima Kumar Directory Blog, Cafes...
Eat, Pray, Shop
Image: The Parlour at Fortnum and Mason via Fortnum & Mason
Forget about Eat, Pray, Love… today’s shoppers are spoiled for choice when it comes to food and beverage. As the ongoing chatter continues around the impending retail apocalypse confronting brands, customers can take some comfort in a number of London’s most eponymous cafés as they eat, pray, shop.
It was in the early to mid-nineties when the world of fashion & cafés first started leaving the traditional set up in department stores and into luxury boutiques. Anyone who has been working in the world of luxury retail long enough will remember the first two groundbreaking brands being Armani on Brompton Road in SW London and DKNY on Bond Street in Mayfair.
Fast forward a 25 years and eating and shopping is the new norm. However, it wasn’t always that way. So as masses of tourists descend into London in droves and the mercury rises with football fever, where can the stylish retreat to cool down and caffeine up in London? Here is a list of Directory’s favourites, everything from family friendly to the fitness freaks.
Top of the list for locals or tourists is The Parlour at Fortnum and Mason. A wonderful mix of sophisticated & fun, this legacy brand is family friendly and the signature turquoise walls are very Instagram friendly. Whether your ice cream tastes tend to be traditional or adventurous - The Parlour has something for everyone’s palette. The Parlour isn’t for those looking for a Cornetto on the go, this for those looking for an experience. Located in the buzzing hub of Picadilly Circus The Parlour is in the perfect location for anyone who needs a sweet treat to escape the summer heat.
Image Credit: Harper’s Bazaar
London fashion is synonymous with luxury retailer Burberry. Whether you’re buying or browsing, customers can purchase a piece of British history by stopping in for traditional British menu at Thomas’s Café in Burberry. Located in the 121 Regent Street location, with its location via Vigo Street, the café has a signature summer menu as well as sweet treats and afternoon tea. The atmosphere won’t disappoint for anyone looking for their quintessentially British fix. Thomas’s is a great place to wind down with a cuppa tea and think of all the ways you’re going to wear your new Burberry trench.
Image credit: Yahoo
Just as Thomas’s is to British heritage, Ralph’s Coffee and Bar is to American Classic style. Escape the clamour and chaos of the West End and enter into a world of days gone by. Ralph’s harks back to another era. Upon entry, you will find two dapper bartenders in pristine white jackets to welcome you into the dark wood panelled room. True to the Ralph Lauren brand, this equestrian themed room is intentional in every detail. More bar than café this destination is best for those who need to cool their weary heels with a whiskey sour or classic Tom Collins. Ralph’s is a great place for anyone who is into coffee and classic cocktails. But don’t be heading to this Regent Street destination for an evening tipple, as it’s daytime hours only.
Image: Ralph’s Café & Bar via WTravelmagazine
Image: Dover Street Market London
For the seriously obsessed fashion flock, the ones who worship fashion, the trek to Dover Street Market is anything but mainstream. The multi-storey concept shop has moved to Haymarket but continues to be a mecca for those who worship at the alter of next generation stars and the seriously established stars of luxury design. Once customers find dizzying price tags attached to labels such as Azzedine Alaïa, Celine, Givenchy and Valentino amongst the well represented Commes des Garçons by founder Rei Kawakubo, retreat to Rose Bakery on the top floor. During peak times finding a table is hard, but the people watching will make the time tick away very quickly. The bakery is also a café offering warm and friendly customer service in a modern atmosphere that is the opposite of the intimidating price tags. The best part about the café is the mostly communal seating. Go for the people watching and stay for the carrot cake.
Image: Rose Market at Dover Street Market
Rounding up the Directory list of top cafés in fashionable shops, for those into fitness and fashion head over to Selfridges on Oxford Street and pop into Hemsley + Hemsley. Londoners will know sisters Jasmine and Melissa as they build out their collective and individual offerings on a global scale. If you have their books, know them or see them about town and want to taste their current culinary offerings, head over to their café. Customers peruse the latest offerings in the fitness and lifestyle section at the Body Studio on 3 and finish off their excursion guilt free. Eat clean and enjoy the seasonal offerings which are always gluten, refined sugar and grain free. The café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is housed in a beautiful space with the Hemsley and Hemsley philosophy. The sisters work to change the menu seasonally to ensure the menu continues to excite and delight visitors. The best part is… they make everything to take away if you’re pressed for time.
Image: Hemsley + Hemsley Café at Selfridges
Image: Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook